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What To Pay When You Can't Pay Everything

Budget Stretcher (featured column)
by Terry Rigg

With ever increasing consumer debt more of us are finding ourselves robbing Peter to pay Paul each month. We go through our bills and find that the money just won't stretch far enough to cover all of the bills and expenses. It's hard to decide who you should pay when you have one bill that is stamped with "Final Notice" and you are behind on several of your other bills.

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If you don't pay the credit cards you know that you are going to start getting those harassing phone calls. If you don't pay the house payment you are looking at foreclosure. If you don't pay the utilities they will shut them off. How do you decide?

When you get to this point it's time to get down to basic survival and work from there.

I have actually talked to people that stated their credit cards were up to date but their mortgage was two months behind. This is one of the biggest mistakes we can make when we don't have the money to pay everything.

Another mistake I see on a regular basis is that some people pay their bills at the expense of their food budget.

If you have the money to pay some of your bills you have to start with groceries first and necessary health items. You can try to save as much as possible on your food but that money has to be set aside before anything else.

The next bill you must pay is your mortgage or rent. While credit cards companies will drag out their collection process, mortgage companies and landlords will start the process of foreclosure or eviction within just a couple of months.

Your next priority is your utilities. In many cases utility companies will turn off your utilities if the bill isn't paid within a few days of receiving the bill.

Once you are sure you have enough to eat and a roof over your head you can start thinking about your other bills. The secured loans, like your car payment, should come before your unsecured loans, like your credit cards.

The reason for this is simple. Creditors that have secured property will sue or repossess much quicker than the credit card companies.

If you find yourself in this situation it is a sign that you need to do something drastic and fast. By not paying all of your bills each month they are going to add up quickly and you are going to accumulate a lot of late fees.

The best place to start is to find out exactly where you stand and what is causing the problem. This is as simple as listing your income on one side of a piece of paper and your bills on the other. Total each and subtract your bills from your income.

Your next step is to develop a budget as soon as possible. For those of you that believe a budget is too restrictive, just the opposite is true. The only way you can get what you want and know you can afford it is to have a budget in place.

It is important that you pay all of your bills on time each month. When you don't have the money to pay everything it is vital to your survival that you pay the most important bills first.

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Copyright © 2003 by Terry Rigg. All rights reserved.

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